First, the rains of Thursday night and later are not reflected in this report. As of Aug. 10 much of the North Central part of Kansas was still moving from abnormally dry to moderate drought with northeast Barton County falling into that range. The recent rains will help as will the more moderate temperatures. Northwest Kansas still ranges from abnormally dry to a small area of severe drought. The six to ten-day outlook (Aug. 18 to 22) indicates above normal temperatures and precipitation. The eight to 14-day outlook (Aug. 20 to 26) actually indicates more of the same, however, not quite as large a chance of above normal rainfall. This really isn’t good for the dryland soybean crop which could use a lot of rain as it is developing pods. It’s not great for the milo, particularly the later planted crop. Except for late planted corn, the crop is pretty well made.
For many crop producers, August is the lull before the storm of fall harvest and planting nest years’ wheat crop. However, it is hardly a down time. What follows is a partial list of what producers should be doing currently. Many probably are.
• First, wheat producers it’s important to keep an eye on and control volunteer wheat for two weeks before planting and for hopefully two miles around wheat fields. This will prevent the wheat curl mite from vectoring wheat streak mosaic virus which can devastate susceptible varieties
• Many producers likely have selected their wheat varieties and may have plated and harvested seed. If seed is in the bin, it’s wise to have it cleaned. Unless grazing, it’s a good idea to treat the seed. It’s not free but often pays for itself. If still in search of a variety, K-State performance test results are on the extension website.
• If a producer has never or hasn’t for a few years performed a soil test for pH and nutrients, now is the time. They should determine a realistic yield goal, take the appropriate samples themselves or with a consultant or coop. For producers on sandier soils consider examining chloride and sulfur, especially sulfur. Chloride helps with disease suppression and sulfur is critical for protein levels. None of this is free and input prices have increased significantly. However, the cost of inputs doesn’t negate the crops nutrient needs. And for the price of a good soil test, a producer may determine they don’t need certain fertilizers and can save money.
• Tillage and weed control - if tilling the most aggressive tillage needs to be done as early as possible and each succeeding tillage operation should be shallower. Final tillage should be to control weeds and incorporate fertilizer. Weed control is necessary for obvious reasons but also because weeds can be alternate hosts for insects and diseases.
• Finally, and it depends on marketing strategy, look at prices and determine how much, if any of the 2022 wheat crops might be forward contracted. This depends on a number of factors but with good prices currently, it may be worth considering locking in higher prices for a portion of the expected crop.
Dr. Victor L. Martin is the agriculture instructor/coordinator for Barton Community College. He can be reached at 620-792-9207, ext. 207, or firstname.lastname@example.org.